Top 5 Reasons We Love the Okanagan Valley

We have spent four of the last five Canada Day long weekends taking a mini-vacation in the southern Okanagan Valley region of British Columbia, Canada. Our friends and family constantly ask why we LOVE this part of Canada so much that we keep going back.  We’ve narrowed it down to the top five reasons below.

Additional pictures are available in our Okanagan gallery (Click Here).

Dozens of wineries

The Okanagan Valley’s reputation in the international wine community continues to grow. While it is often referred to as “Canada’s Napa Valley”, we vastly prefer the wine made here to that in California. Then again, never has either of us uttered “I feel like some wine, something buttery!”  Each time we visit the Okanagan, we book a private wine tour to check out 4-5 wineries without having to worry about driving. We also go to a couple of other wineries on our own to pick up a favourite bottle or to grab lunch – some of the best restaurants in the region are at wineries (more on this later).

A few of our favourite wineries are:

  • La Stella (for everything – this place was a revelation on our trip last year) (Click Here)
  • La Vieux Pin (La Stella’s sister winery) (Click Here)
  • 8th Generation (for the sparkling rose) (Click Here)
  • Tinhorn Creek (for the restaurant and rose wine if you are lucky enough to try some) (Click Here)
  • La Frenz (for the sauvignon blanc) (Click Here)
  • Painted Rock (for the reds) (Click Here)

At the end of our three days, we’d typically ship 2-3 cases of wine back to our home in Ontario (trust us, it’s legal-ish).

Southern Okanagan Valley
Southern Okanagan Valley

 

Vineyards in South Kelowna
Vineyards in South Kelowna

Amazing summer weather

Every year we have gone, we fly into Kelowna (the largest city in the region) or Penticton (a smaller town closer to the Southern Okanagan).  We always arrive to sunny skies and warm temperatures (late 20s-low 30s). The region south of Penticton to Osoyoos is essentially desert, so there isn’t much rain to spoil any vacation plans. Don’t forget to bring your shades and sunscreen!

Okanagan Valley from the water
Okanagan Valley from the water

 

Lake Skaha from the Penticton beach
Lake Skaha from the Penticton beach

Beautiful lake and hillside scenery

Shortly after driving out of trafficky and unattractive Kelowna, the scenery turns spectacular along the Okanagan highway (highway 97). With nice views of Lake Okanagan and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains all along the coastal highway, you’ll be wishing you were out on the lake on a boat.

Side note – We recommend staying in Penticton and renting a speedboat or jet ski from the waterfront for an hour or two.

View of Lake Okanagan from South Kelowna
View of Lake Okanagan from South Kelowna

 

I'm on a boat!
I’m on a boat!

Tons of affordable rental accommodation

The Okanagan Valley is a very popular place for people to own investment properties. While there are some condos available in the region, we have always rented a full house given there are many more options to choose from and the price is comparable to condos and so reasonable.  In 2015, for example, we rented a large, fully-furnished modern four-bedroom house (we went with another couple) in Okanagan Falls that had a huge balcony with lake and mountain views (and a nice BBQ) for roughly $350 per night. There are many rental websites these days but we typically use HomeAway.com.   There are also your typical hotels/motels with a lot of independent operators.

Great restaurants

As I mentioned earlier, many of the region’s best restaurants are located at wineries. Some of our favourites that we keep going back to are:

  • Quail’s Gate (this makes for a great stop between the Kelowna airport and Penticton)
  • Tinhorn Creek (get a seat outside and enjoy the view, try to order a glass of the rose)
  • Lake Breeze (the wine isn’t our favorite but the amazing views from the outdoor patio and good food more than make up for it).

If we ever get bored traveling the world and decide to settle back in Canada, we could see the Okanagan Valley being where we end up.  We just need to figure out some way to make money once we’re there

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